I won my category today at the Lake Sonoma Ricochet. I started the day feeling uneasy about my condition, having gone out the night before and eating some questionable mexican food that gave me stomach problems all night. Despite the discomfort I managed to find my legs halfway through the race and really put in some power.
The start didn't hurt as much as I was anticipating. Usually I'm gasping for air with my legs screaming with pain, but I managed to keep a good pace up the road before dropping into the first downhill single track. On the corner that I wiped out on last year I saw someone ahead of me totally eat dirt. The trail is very loose over hard-pack, and you really have to check your speed in the first few miles.
There's a series of dips that I couldn't find my rhythm on, having to un-clip and scoot myself over to the other side. I didn't carry enough speed I guess. On the third lap I managed to crash in trying to anticipate the opposing hill by down-shifting, but I was too late and my front wheel washed out on a rather tricky S curve before the dip. Besides that crash I was left unscathed for the remainder of the race.
The heat wasn't so bad this weekend. I was expecting a hot day in the saddle, but it only crept over 80º at the halfway mark. I was well hydrated, and only needed a single bottle to bring me home.
The race saw two big names in cycling, Levi Leipheimer and Peter Stetina. They took the overall win and second place, respectively. They were so fast. I went back and forth between a few riders before overtaking them on the third lap. At one point my front derailleur failed to shift down into my small ring, causing me to panic slightly. I thought I'd have to hammer the remainder of the race with only my big ring. It could be done, but it would have been mega painful.
The last climb of the race is pretty cool, lined with friends and family all rooting for their racers. It's a real boost of happiness and confidence before heading out on each lap.
This will most likely be my last race before the Leadville qualifier in Tahoe, followed by Leadville in August. In the meantime I hope to log in some miles along with some good training for the marathon style races.